Thursday, January 18, 2018
The Grey Wolves - Exit Strategy
Tesco. Tesco 118. LP/CD
The Grey Wolves - Catholic Priests Fuck Children
Hospital Productions. HOS-499. CD
I don’t quite remember how it happened but some time during the mid 90’s I found myself corresponding with The Grey Wolves and along the way managed to make a complete fool of myself. The Grey Wolves were serious people. Very serious people. On a mission. Intelligent, driven, focused, ready to take the knocks. You kind of got the impression that they didn’t fuck about. And I knew nothing.
As I remember it they were setting up an English Industrial Heritage Museum [or something along those lines, detail is now vague] and they were looking for people to contribute something toward it. Which is where my ignorance showed and where the correspondence ended. Hey ho. Life goes on. It seems odd therefore to be writing on the demise of The Grey Wolves twenty years hence. A final farewell gig in Birmingham a few years back and a more recent one as a nod to Tesco’s 30th Anniversary in Germany and with Exit Strategy that's your lot.
Its not a bad way to say goodbye either. Not that I have everything The Grey Wolves have ever released or have heard it. I can compare though and not everything I’ve heard is someone screaming ‘we hate you’ through a wall of feedback. In fact I doubt there’s much of it that is. The Grey Wolves were far cleverer than that. Some of their artwork, which they were rightly highly regarded for, or their dialogue, may well have got the temples throbbing in certain sections of society but unless you look at it all in a wider context, you’re missing the point.
The Grey Wolves weren’t there to explain though, they were self styled ‘Cultural Terrorists’. Nothing was sacred, nothing was off limits. Everybody was an enemy. Everybody was a target. Which is where ‘Catholic Priests Fuck Children’ comes in. Regarded as their best outing its been given the rerelease treatment courtesy of Hospital Productions who have defended the sensibilities of those of a nervous disposition by covering the CD in an outer sleeve. Originally released 1996 by the German label Praxis Dr Bearmann it carries everything from looped dialogue, swathes of Industrial noise, Industrial ambience, juggernaut PE and in last track ‘Destruction’ a pummeling, forward driven ur-beat thats smothered in all manner of synth wash and dirty electronica. The sleeve contains some of the best of their collage work too with lady boys, priests, Myrah Hindley, Yukio Mishima, and Japanese bondage all juxtaposed in a suitably grainy black and white fold out.
It all boils down to the music in the end of course. So I went trawling around, digging myself deeper into The Grey Wolves internet hole, a deep hole which I’m quite happy to wallow in and then pulling out older releases that haven’t seen the light of day for a while. There’s the collaboration with JFK, ‘Assassin’ a mutant disco slab of propelled Industrial rhythms with Lee Harvey Oswald staring out at you from the cover and which comes on suitably apt transparent red vinyl. Then ‘Blood and Sand’ from 1990, the Gulf War album, an album imbued with gloom, death, murky military radio comm chatter and further back to Red Terror/Black Terror and what seems like pure experimentation. I could mention the live LP Tokyo Suicide Service where they no doubt baffled the local audience by sampling ‘The World is Like a Great Big Onion’ and any number of their collaborations with Con-Dom and Genocide Organ to name but two of the bigger hitters.
Then there’s ‘Exit Strategy’ and nine tracks worth of American cop radio, dead star transmissions, gas mask breaths, malfunctioning androids, dolphin sounds, Arnie and Samuel L Jackson, everything submerged beneath a series of pulsing cardiac beats. The last three tracks are ‘Seizure’, ‘Terminal’ and ‘Flatline’ and there’s the heartbeat cardio read out flat lining on the cover just in case you didn’t get it. On ‘Seizure’ comes the vocal sample, ‘maybe we ought to start thinking about an exit strategy?’ They already did. Their last LP is also notable for having Jérộme Nougaillon produce it, mix it, engineer it, master it and add additional material to it. If that wasn’t enough he even got involved with the artwork. All this makes for a more polished sound. A sound polished to black semi transparent with the aid of the grime as scraped off the sides of thirty Salford corporation buses. The grime of thirty years in a grim business.
Thursday, January 11, 2018
Killy Dog Box - Sump
Kata Basis. KBCD001KDB17. CDR
Fuck me with a ragman’s trumpet, its Killy Dog Box. Morbid from Middlesborough in his black hoodie. Ye Godz. How many years has it been? Run to the hills. Bury the cheddar. Lock up your daughters. Stay indoors and hide the cat. Its no place for the weak of heart. Read on at your peril.
Morbid used to send Killy Dog Box material when I was still doing the print zine. I was usually less than kind to whatever it was he sent me and then he started another project called Pre-Dating The 13th which was even worse and STILL he kept on sending me it and then nothing. For what seems like a very long time until just before Christmas when Sump arrived.
I’ll take my hat off to him though, we never fall out. Its never personal with me. Its always about the music. We shared a liking for early Genesis which smoothed the waters somewhat but Killy Dog Box? Even the name. Who could do such a thing? Somebody loved him though, Rob Hayler’s put Killy Dog Box on his oTo cassette only label plus lots of self published work of course and then Pre-Dating The 13th. I have no idea. Whats all that about? There was a one off zine too as I remember, Navigator [?] and an obsession with an obscure Romanian surrealist called Victor Brauner which may have been a name Morbid adopted at some stage. Then I heard he’d become a poet. I’ve not heard any of his poetry.
Mercifully I have managed to expunge whatever memory it is I have of Pre-Dating The 13th and most of Killy Dog Box come to that, there remains but a slight stain somewhere in the recesses of my brain but its nothing I can’t handle. Hideous stuff with moaning in it. I don’t even want to try and imagine what it was it did sound like. Killy Dog Box were, as far as I can remember, a little more palatable. More bass. More life. More death. On his Soundcloud page Morbid tags his KDB tracks DarkAmbientNoise, Darkwave, Industrial which is how I remember it and after spending an evening reconnecting with KDB I find little that isn’t to my taste with some of his work veering slightly towards Power Electronics even. But that name, that art work? What’s it doing? Where’s it going? What is it he’s trying to convey?
Sump is a three track CDR single and KDB are at present a duo with Peter Heselton joining in the fun. Eighteen minutes of music for which Morbid would like seven of your English pounds. Good luck with that one. The opener ‘Das Jenseits’ has its roots deep in the late 70’s and is KDB masquerading as Vice Versa or similar era Cabaret Voltaire, think primitive heartbeat synth drums, squally guitar and a vocal so destroyed, reverbed and doom laden it renders the lyrics unintelligible. Standing by the Grave is Morbid with slightly more legible vocals singing over a fuzzy guitar and a stuttering drum machine, What Light Remains is an atmospheric early Cocteau Twin wash with the lightest of Morbid-y celestial vocals daubed on it.
What this means and I can hardly believe I’m writing this, is that I have a Killy Dog Box release in front of me that I’ve actually enjoyed. But lets not get carried away here, this is slight, less than twenty minutes worth for your bucks and then theres that cover to come to terms with. Still, its a step in the right direction. You can unlock the door now.
Killy Dog Box
Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Ian Watson & Rob Hayler - Metronome
Invisible City Records. Cassette/DL. ICR35
La Mancha del Pecado & Culver - Volume 7
Invisible City Records. Cassette. ICR36
Magyar Mezőny - Havizaj Válogatás
Unsigned Label. Cassette/DL US033
Unsigned Experimental Noise Comp #3
Unsigned Label. Cassette/DL US031
Those car-azee cassette people. Don’t they know they’re a dead format? OK, lets not go down that road again. Cassettes are kool again and everybody with a beard wants one. At least I can’t see the big supermarkets selling pre-recorded cassettes anytime soon. Although I do remember the days when supermarkets did sell them and had sections of the shop dedicated to music [and I don’t just mean a rack lost in the nether regions selling a few scabby CD’s] where you could also buy cassette head cleaning tapes which came with a little bottle of cleaning fluid and C120’s that your machine chewed up after two minutes. Tapes were usually displayed in wire racks of a design that put the sleeves face on and which could be slid out should you wish to purchase your selection. I bought Paul Brett first album on cassette out of Cleckheaton Tesco, it must have been the mid 70’s, in the days when you could buy an obscure English folky guitarist singer songwriter’s latest release in your local supermarket. Days that have gone and will not return. A fact I still find rather depressing. You can buy plenty of shite vinyl in the supermarkets these days though and who thought those days would return? I stumbled across Batley Tescos vinyl section a while ago and nearly wet my pants laughing; Led Zep 4, Rumours, The Joshua Tree and what I assume to be the drivel that constitutes the charts these days. If I’d have been forced to take one record home with me it’d would’ve been The Queen is Dead but then only to take it home and file it seeing as how I cant see myself playing The Smiths again any time soon. Those days, like those of Paul Brett are firmly behind me now.
But still they come. Two from Invisible City, a label deeply rooted in the north east of England all full of drone and horror and two from those Royal Hungarian Noisemakers based in Budapest.
Two releases from ICR both of which are on a journey from A to B both of which seem in no hurry to get to where ever it is they’re going. Not exactly the most exciting releases I’ve ever had through these hands but then it is January and these releases seem to have January written all over them. The Watson/Hayler collaboration is a forty five minute drone as recovered from inside a grandfather clock where it takes forty five minutes to strike midnight. Inside the clock all is decayed and rotting, the mechanism worn and rusty and in need of maintenance, the sounds coming from within all suitably decomposed and appearing to alter little throughout its A to B journey and when you flip the cassette it plays the same on the other side. Thus giving you the chance to indulge in unlimited minutes worth of head crumple with just the auto return on your Walkman to remind you that there is a world out there. I think the clue is in the title.
For whatever reason they choose fit ICR have decided that the La Mancha del Pecado & Culver is to be a cassette only release. And if there’s anybody out there who desperately needs a copy to complete their collection please get in touch. I’m all for recycling. Apparently this is their seventh outing together, Mr La Mancha and Mr Culver, the other six seemingly having passed me by leaving no mark. I can only hope that they’re an improvement on 7 which begins in all the right places, held down keys producing deep drone, but soon looses its way with the introduction of random clusters. This is I presume, horror drone. A soundtrack to a cheap Italian horror flick where hair is torn and eyes gouged to the accompaniment of wild eyed, over the top acting and badly dubbed dialogue. It certainly has that feel to it. The flip is more interesting with reversed loops going around plucked strings while a hollow wind blows dirt across an empty car lot but this again falls in to moribund, murk territory where nothing much happens at all. January.
The two Hungarian tapes provide much more in the way of succor and provide evidence that there is a place where Throbbing Gristle, Tangerine Dream and Aphex Twin all still live happy lives getting pissed on Unicum and Zwack. Not that all the projects and artists on these two releases are Hungarian. Info isn’t as forthcoming on Magyar Mezőny but the other release certainly has an international feel with America, Italy, Spain and Russia all represented.
I’ve had a couple of tapes from Unsigned before but I’m still no wiser as to any of the names here. Royal Hungarian Noisemakers apart the rest are new; BOM, WN, Pulpo!, dzsemszGOND, United Gods, UEUM, Adeptus Mechanicus, Live Animal Transport, Yann is the Bastard, The Use … the list goes on, around twenty new names for me to get to grips with. The majority here are working within an experimental field mixing definable genres like techno, ambience, industrial, noise, PE, electroacoustic and field recording and creating new and exciting sounds along the way. Oh yes pop pickers. Over the four sides I found little that disagreed with me which for a v/a comp is pretty good going. Some of this is down to the high production values and the quality of the cassettes themselves but lets give the people who put this together credit too. Highlights are plentiful: Your Grace Adrianna Natalie hails from The Bronx and combines Industrial Noise with Techno, the introduction of her voice in to the mix made me actually pump my fist, the ghost of Derek Bailey appears on the acid guitar work of Pulpo!, the electro-acoustic work of Miguel A Garcia is worthy of note as is the eerie vocals on United Gods empty factory ambience, theres the Harold Budd like piano work of Hideg Roncs, the noise trombone of UEUM, dip in anywhere and you will find tiny rhythms, big rhythms, euro synth big beats, Kieth Rowe like guitars, creaking oar straps, TG sludge, abstract noise, TNB scrape and clatter.
Its like I just received an out of the blue various artists comp from the mid 90’s and now all I want to do is dig out the bio’s and track down their back catalogue. Lots to admire here. Just don’t go looking for them in Tescos.
Monday, January 08, 2018
Mami Wata - Mami Wati
Wild Silence. CDR
These Feathers Have Plumes/Isnaj Dui
Was Ist Das. Cassette
Infinite Space Infinite Stars
Beartown Records. Cassette
I must have seen Andie Brown play several times now but never actually sat down to listen to one of her releases. That's her as one half of Mami Wata along with Sharon Gal and as was once with Infinite Space Infinite Stars and as she is now with These Feathers Have Plumes. That's her behind those oversized wine glasses in a sort of experimental take on the glass harmonium thing where you wet the tips of your fingers and play a half recognisable version of Cavatina or Ode to Joy. Except this is much, much better.
I saw her play in Huddersfield recently in a freezing room above a shop on the high street. A very low key and friendly sort of gig where we all sat around on wooden chairs getting numb arses, shuffling ever nearer the portable heaters. As These Feathers Have Plumes Andie attaches huge oversized wine glasses by various electronic means to her laptop so as to pick up vibrations made by wet fingered frotting and clanging and in this instance at least, the addition of small toys which turned out to be things called microbots, battery driven insect toys which whirred and bumped in to each other and tried in vain to climb the steep sides of the glass. All this gets fed in to the laptop from which emerge the most sonorous and delightful of drones.
The Infinite Space Infinite Stars release is the oldest release of the three here, six years old and long out of print, but worth mentioning as it shows us how Brown has developed her sound in the years up to 2016 which is when the other two releases appeared. It has two tracks, one on each side, both running to around the ten minute mark, one track of the crystalline Bach organ work meets Charlemagne Palestine as the Nostromo passes overhead in the opening credits to Alien, the other a Mike Ratledge keyboard solo from his Soft Machine days gone slightly wrong in a good way. All very seventies, Schultzy, Froesey dreamy moments with echoey factory doors being slammed in the background.
The Mami Wata release is in parts totally demonic this being entirely down to Sharon Gal whose remarkable use of her vocal chords echoes the effect used by horror film sound engineers to conjure Beelzebub by slowing the vocal until its just about recognisable. Not one for the kiddiwinks before bedtime. Upon which Andie Brown layers some stunning glass and electronics work so that first track Icefire makes you feel like you're tumbling down a collapsing cliff face into a wild and thrashing rock bashed surf with deadly demons cackling in your ear holes. Like all the Omen films rolled in to one and given over to Xennakis for further manipulation. 'Two' begins with a crucified zither being bashed around a throbbing drone until Gal's shivering vocals emerge once more. Here Gal's vocals are haunted gasps, death rattles, guttural hair raising deliveries. Last track Fata Morgana is a full on fifteen minutes worth of nostril flaring, cloud soaring, spread your wings, take the drugs, celestial synth choir which is some kind of amalgam of all that has gone before. Which coming not long after I sat down and watched Herzog's mesmeric film of the same name gave this release an almost intended synchronicity. Gal is also credited with electronics and recordings which I take to mean field recordings. It all works. Total bliss. Wonderful.
The split tape with Isnaj Dui is the one in which Brown's glass work really shines. Especially on tracks like Soho Living Room in which Dale Cornish recounts the days when he used to visit London as a teenager and on the three 'Return's' the second of which is almost church like with glasses being struck with the serenity of a religious service until the field recording of plastic boxes being crushed is introduced. Brown's use of field recordings [a road compactor joining a xylophone] are perfect fits. Hand in glove. Foot in slipper. Chip in gob. On the flip we have Kate English aka Isnaj Dui. I once saw her at the Unitarian Church in Todmorden on the Tor Fest bill. She played flute that day processing it though various effects until we had flute loops filling that cavernous space. I remember Philthy Taylor jumping to his feet and making a beeline to the merch stall as soon as her set finished. He's been a fan ever since. This is excellent too. One single track performed and recorded in one take that moves from dreamy flute work to looped plucked bridge strings that build and build before almost disappearing then evolving into more heavily looped flute work that flutters and morphs and swoops and dives and soars, its arms a-fling around your swirling head.
So now I curse myself for not indulging earlier. For not being Philthy Taylor and making a bee line for that merch stall. Better late than never tho.
If you're keen enough, and you should be, the links below may lead to you whats left of the digital footprints of these most wonderful releases. That Beartown release though? That may be prove a tad harder to track down. Lets just say I feel lucky having one.
Was Ist Das
Wednesday, January 03, 2018
Life Irritates Art - Name and Shame
Christmas came and went in a blur of Lemsip, paracetamol and triple XXX Corvonia. I had intended to write words of wisdom during the period that has become known as Chrimbo Limbo but after Mrs Fisher began her slow descent into her own personal bronchial Beirut it was nailed on that I would soon follow. And so it came to pass. I returned from the Boxing Day Batley/Dewsbury match shivering like a shiting dog and after spending a good fifteen minutes in a blisteringly hot shower I took to the Poang and began my own miserable path to pills and potions perdition. After 13 hours in bed our heads were like mistimed church bells, our lungs became vile breeding grounds for slimy green stuff, our limbs went limp, energy levels fell to a barely alive status, we shuffled between rooms when needs must attending to toilet where the barest trickle did emerge and all the while that sodding, fucking cough. A rib aching, back killing cough. A cough that begins in the pit of the stomach, your abdomen contorting into vicious knots, the head pounding, the gob dry. With both hands gripping the sides of the bathroom sink unit I coughed and sweated and ached like I was playing the devils own pinball machine. We flung ourselves into chairs and gave in to the horror that is Christmas daytime TV where Greg Wallis goes to tea factories and Shrek 3 is a constant. I slept little and spent the dark hours in bed listening to Test Match Special live from Australia, my earbuds falling out as they became trapped in the writhing and aching, one minute Dan Norcross, the other Geoffrey Boycott and then sleep and then not knowing if I was listening to the Barmy Army or the wind howling outside. A delirium of sorts took over me and I flew thousands of imaginary miles over many countries to be in the warmer climes cheering England on in their futile bid to retain the Ashes.
And for a week or more that was that. I did venture out once for essential supplies and walked in to to town foolishly thinking that the fresh air would do me good. I stumbled with wobbly Bambi legs for the fifteen minutes or so it takes, threw some things in a basket and walked out again. Got the bus home. Couldn't hack it. Returning home I once again collapsed in to the Poang this time like a returning Arctic explorer, chest heaving, head spinning, thinking thats me not moving for a fucking long time.
We ate all the things that people gave us for xmas because cooking anything was out of the question; chocolates, shortbread, spiced biscuits [spekulatums], mince pies and those flat and hard Italian cakes made from squashed figs that you have to soak in tea for ten minutes to get going. Fruit rotted in bowls. Alcohol remained untouched. Only tea could save us. Having got extra brewing tips from Greg Wallis after his visit to the Ty-Phoo factory on Merseyside I made tea by the gallon and drank it with all the fervour of a thirsty builder. But where it went I don't know. My body must have been soaking it up to use as sweat for little came the way its supposed to.
What little pleasure I took during this most miserable of weeks was through the medium of radio. Actually putting music on of own choosing never entered my head. Instead we listened to Radio 3. Over the last year year or so I've discovered that long exposure to R3, at a volume that is neither too loud nor too soft, is the aural equivalent of a rub down with the Sunday Times and here, in my hour of need, when the flesh is as weak as it gets without rotting I could sit in the Poang and let R3 waft over me in a never ending roll of warm comforting waves. Not everything R3 transmits meets with constant, ultimate approval of course [I'll never fathom Opera and you can keep your Viennese waltzes] and they do seem to have more than their fair share of double barrelled presenters but the hits far outweigh the misses and the surprises are a constant source of pleasure. I don't do end of year lists but if I did it would be clogged with many of the things I heard or stumbled across on R3. I awoke one Sunday morning to hear Bernard Cribbens singing 'Right Said Fred', the week after it was Charles Trenet and 'Le Mer'. One Sunday afternoon during an Austrian conductors Private Passions set [R3's take on Desert Island Discs] they played Iggy and the Stooges 'I Wanna Be Your Dog', in entirety. Then there's Late Junction, Words and Music, Between the Ears, The Verb with Barnsley's own Ian Macmillan. I can even take Jazz Record requests should the mood take me. Its another reason why the review pile has remained, for the most part, untouched.
All of which is a preamble of sorts as an explanation as to why the words have been in short supply of late. Only seven posts in the last three months with none in December at all. If I made New year resolutions I'd make one to write on a more regular basis but I don't do them and besides I'm terribly lazy and easily distracted. So thats that then.
What I could do is extol the virtues of this here DVD+R containing the work of many a creative adventurer as put together by the south coasts very own Jason Williams who judging from images found on here has honed his starving homeless basketball player look to utter perfection. The disc is made for dipping and by that I don't mean in your Costa Coffee flat white. The downside to this is that unless you make notes you're going to miss something and I made notes and I've missed lots. I must have done. There's stuff everywhere which mirrors Jase Williams own chaotic scattershot working style. Jase seems to have been out of the loop for a while, at least since the demise of his last band Mothers of the Third reich. I think they gave up because they struggled to get gigs. No shit. Last I heard from Jase he was part of a Black Metal High Impact aerobics team [Motto: drop and give me 666] and here's the poster on the lengthy [240+] PDF/AVI/JPEG booklet thing called NAME AND SHAME which probably contains the artwork of various others named on the back sleeve here who could be Ocelocelot, Paul Tone and the splendidly monikered The Knit Nurse amongst many, many others but none of it seems to be titled so you have to guess. There's collage and photos and digitally manipulated images and the odd glimpse of the injuries Jase usually sustains whilst gigging, cuts to head and limbs usually. Of the moving images we have Jase and Joe Henderson in a room full of people sat cross-legged as Jase honks his sax and Joe smashes a table to matchwood with a sledgehammer. Actions to which the audience look suitably unfazed. Some videos are short short, over and done in a minute or so as with Rasen Krieg and random noise bursts as a wandering hand pulls apart an egg custard or a 12 second film of rudimentary motor moving a pen about. There's video footage of someone talking at a gallery opening and there is of course the very strange and esoteric OK OK Society partaking in some kind of ritual where Ken and Barbie get wrapped up in fishing twine with a key between them [soundtrack by JW and Vomir]. The mighty Filthy Turd appears in a short edited gig highlights video called 'Down at the Bottom of the Pond'. A definite highlight this with the Turd at one point emerging from behind his rig, pre noise onset, head wrapped in cellophane [and in and amongst it many a cassette] and casually announcing to his audience 'Years ago I used to sniff a lot of glue'. The mans a genius. My biggest discovery though and the track that made me say 'really, no' was that of Ego Much. Two tracks here, both field recordings, one from inside the freezer compartment of the fridge the other a lengthier outing containing wind chimes, running water, scraped strings, bottles rolling around a concrete floor, overhead jets, cackling crows, rattling chains all of which have gone through a backward loop of a dog eating its dinner. And Ego Much is ... Jase Williams. Life is full of surprises.
I'm almost better now thank you for asking. Not quite 100% but fit enough to rattle this off and post it. New year. New hopes. New Poang.
deepkiss720 [at] hotmail.com